Thursday, January 12, 2017

The National Bird

Haliaeetus leucocephalus is the scientific name for America’s National Bird. It means a sea (halo) eagle (aeetos) with a white (leukos) head (cephalus). At one time, bald meant white not hairless. It is called a sea eagle because of its preference for eating fish although it does eat carrion, smaller birds and rodents. Eagles differ from other birds of prey mainly by their larger size, more powerful build and heavier head and beak. The average adult bald eagle measures approximately 3 feet in length (males are smaller); females have a wingspan of 7 feet while males average 6 feet. Although they only weigh 8-9 lbs (male) 10-14 lbs (female), they can lift about 4 pounds. They live for 20 – 30 years. Eagles mate for life and an established pair may use the same nest for many years. They lay 1-3 eggs. Their chicks fledge in about 20 weeks but don’t reach sexual maturity and their full adult plumage for 4 – 5 years. The Bald Eagle is native only to North America. This is one of the reasons, along with its majestic beauty, great strength, and long life that it was chosen as our National Emblem on June 20, 1782. Second runner up was the American Turkey. (Blog originally published 1/22/11)

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